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September 1, 2013
Two rejections in one week. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that to a writer, am I right? So I’ll admit I’m very discouraged. S&I has done so well in contests yet I have 2 editors telling me they can’t connect with the characters. Readers are connecting. I love this story but that feeling apparently doesn’t carry over to the publishing professionals. So Sex and Insensibility is officially done. I’m putting her to bed, only I’m the one kicking and screaming. It’s hard to let one of my babies go. I’ve put an incredible amount of time in on this story. It started as an idea 15 yrs ago before coming to fruition in 2010. Now 3 years of editing and polishing and …. nothing. It’s still a rough piece of coal. Maybe I need better sand paper. 

August 28, 2013
After 8 months I heard back from Harlequin. Sadly, a “not right for us” rejection. But she did go on to tell me what wasn’t right so I can focus on something if and when I do another edit. I think I need to put Sex and Insensibility to bed, though. It’s made the rounds. It’s not ready or not right or just …. not. Saving Sam made the finals in HOD’s Molly contest. I’m taking an online class through Margie Lawson’s website. She supposedly has great success getting her writers ready for publication so we’ll see what I can pick up. I signed up for COFW’s one day workshop with Hallie Ephron. In the meantime, I’m still editing Fallen Stars and writing new words on Saving Sam.

August 7, 2013
It’s been a roller coaster week here at A Writer’s House. I finally submitted my 100 pages to the agent that requested Fallen Stars through our conference but sadly, received a rejection letter this week. It was a “good” rejection letter. She really like my characters and my writing – said I had definite talent – but that it was missing that spark to bring it to the next level. I know that’s just another group of words that mean “not right for me” but it hurt less since she at least bothered to write something other than “no.”. She also complimented my improved query, which if you remember was skewered at the conference in May. So it was a win-lose on that one. Then I found out I’d made the 2nd round of judging in the Molly Contest with Saving Sam, placed 3rd in the Great Lakes Romance Writers contest and finaled in the Maggies with Fallen Stars. I’ve done two submissions this week – Entangled and Avon. I’ve not been really aggressive with submitting to digital presses. That’s going to change.

July 20, 2013
I’m neck deep in edits on Fallen Stars. I’ve taken a page from the Fast Draft class I attended and just write. I try to avoid editing as much as possible though i can’t help myself sometimes. Then I’ll go back and read with the editor’s eye, find the holes and fill them in. I’m feeling a little stuck with Saving Sam at the moment. Can you have a hero that’s suicidal and still make him an alpha male? I’m going to try it. I learned a neat little trick in a work training session yesterday. MS Word has something called readability statistics. You turn it on under File-Options-Proofing. The grammar check has to be also turned on. After you run spell check it gives you these numbers. It contains the usual – word count, words/sentence. But it also shows you how passive your writing is (%) as well as ease of readability (we were told to aim for 50-70) and a grade level (we were told to aim for 8-10 but I generally hit somewhere around 9-12). I was quite surprised to find my writing is only 1% passive. My daughter is off on a one month travel schedule visiting family. While I miss her immensely, I do enjoy the time to devote to my writing.

July 7, 2013
A happy belated Fourth out there to everyone. We had a long weekend which was both relaxing and productive. I finally got my submission off to the agent that requested it back in May at the Cleveland conference. I admit to dilly-dallying around with that, afraid of yet another rejection. I reached this point back in 2007 when I put the writing away for good, or so I thought at the time. I’d just hit the wall too many times, unable to cross over. The publishing world has changed so much in the last 6 years but my rejections have been the same: just not right for us. I look at what’s on the shelf and can only guess that it’s because I’m not writing about babies and cowboys or babies and millionaires. Even my daughter has encouraged me to go against the grain and break the rules. I tell her that’s not the way to start off in this business. Maybe that’s why I need to turn to e-publishing. A friend in NEORWA wrote a great article about her e-publishing journey and in it she mentions a similar experience. She wasn’t a “cookie-cutter” writer. Apparently neither am I. And like her, I want the “validation from a publisher that my work was of sufficient quality” to be published on today’s market. So I’m going to start looking seriously at the world of e-publishing and see what I can learn. I have many knowledgeable resources to tap into for information.

May 30, 2013
I seem to have found a renewed excitement about my writing since the Cleveland conference. I’ve entered several contests, including the Harlequin Blaze Challenge and am ready to send in my partial. I’m nervous, to tell the truth. More nervous than usual. I try to live by the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” motto but in truth, I’m more the “expect the worse, be surprised with anything else” type. One of the things I want to really work on this summer is my discipline with writing every day. Someone else has started a Fast Draft loop which I’ve joined. But there’s little that scares me more than sitting down in my writing chair and staring at those empty pages. I was working on the newsletter for the chapter and came across a comment from another author who was using “100 words for 100 days” as a guide. So that is my goal. We’ll see how it goes.

May 21, 2013
I attended the Cleveland Rocks Romance conference this past weekend. I’m a member of the chapter and have so enjoyed getting to know the people involved in NEORWA. They are truly some of the best I’ve come across in my 20 yr association with RWA. One of the perks of membership this year was submitting a query letter to be read and evaluated by our visiting editors and agents. A unique opportunity, to say the least, and one I was excited to take advantage of. I’ve sent this query to no fewer than 40 editors/agents over the course of the last year without success, so I was hoping for some insight from professionals. Oh boy did I get that insight and it was not favorable. My query is too long and unfocused, apparently. And the story presented seems to be too long for the short word count, though I got very little feedback on the content itself. But I was devastated, to tell the truth. I consider myself an experienced unpublished writer. Not perfect but any means but I thought I knew what I was doing. So I went back to my hotel room and hid and licked my wounds. I was on the verge of packing and skulking away in the middle of the night but I’m not a coward. I can take constructive criticism. Then I convinced myself to stay but cancel my editor and agent pitch appointments. Even though the query was submitted somewhat anonymously, my friends and fellow writers knew which one was mine and were very kind and supportive at breakfast. I kept saying aloud that I was glad for the feedback because now that I knew what was wrong, I could fix it. It took me a while but I realized that was the truth and what I’d been looking for in all the “just not right for us” rejections I’ve gotten over the last two years. So I have a place to start if and when I choose to re-edit this manuscript. For now, I’m editing Fallen Stars and starting a new book called Saving Sam. Oh….I also kept my pitch appointments and had a partial request on Fallen from the agent. So it was not a complete disaster. 

May 3, 2013
I’m here in Indiana this weekend, playing chauffeur as my daughter attends the prom at her old high school. Inbetween shuttling her places, I’m writing, or at least trying to. This was first on my list. I’m working on a new story called Saving Sam about a baseball player who is blinded during an act of heroism. He thinks his life is upside down until Grace McPherson shows up and turns it upside down even more. I want it to be funny without making light of the situation. I hope I can pull it off. I’m reading two books on writing at the moment. The Fire in fiction by Donald Maass and A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter by S.P. Sipal, trying to build up the inspiration and motivation. Summer is just around the corner, of course in Ohio it’s still up in the air if spring has arrived. Keep writing until next time!!

March 7, 2013
How did the month February pass so quickly?? I was busy coordinating my local RWA chapter’s contest. We surpassed previous years’ entry count which was fantastic. I haven’t done much writing, sadly. Life is keeping me preoccupied right now but I have started to edit Fallen Stars. I also decided to enter the Golden Heart at the last minute and the finalists will be announced in a few weeks. There was a bit of bad news/good news. The good news is editors and agents are reading my stuff. The bad news is it is getting rejected. 

February 1, 2013
I attended a workshop given by COFW featuring Donald Maas. Wow. It was such a great day. Not only surrounded by writers but Donald just really knows how to energize a crowd. I have purchased his latest book, The Fire in Fiction, and will be soaking that up soon. 

January 4, 2013
Happy New Year!! So much is starting right now I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I finished my romantic suspense, Fallen Stars. It’s a rough first draft but I’m tickled to have typed “then end.” I walked on cloud nine for a couple of days with that accomplishment. I’m trying to find the next story to work on. I have several ideas, but nothing is screaming “write me!” Of course, there’s always editing on FS. 

December 26, 2012
Got a double dose of good news shortly before Christmas. I placed first in the contemporary category of the Beacon Contest with my romcom Sex and Insensibility. Plus the final round judge requested the full manuscript. I hit send on that submission today. The full request was a first for me. I’d had partials requested before. The judge mentioned in her comments she saw a few issues that might need reworking but liked the overall story so we’ll see where this goes. 

November 26, 2012
So I didn’t finish the RS over Thanksgiving. Sigh. I need to buckle down and get those words on paper!! I’m blaming my current lack of creativity on the throbbing tooth that has kept me up nights. The dentist finally said the dreaded words “root canal” on Monday so I’ll be adding a new experience to my life. It’s one I wouldn’t mind doing without, however. 

November 15, 2012
The Golden Heart opened today for entries. I’m contemplating entering with both my current WIPs. I still have a few thousand words to write on the RS but hope to be done over Thanksgiving. The GH is a tricky contest. For those of you not familiar with it, the GH is the contest sponsored by RWA. It is, without a doubt, the BIG ONE for unpublished romance writers. I have 2 finals and one win under my GH belt and couldn’t be more proud. But the GH is difficult. In truth, unless you are a finalist you get very little in return for a high entry fee. There isn’t any feedback other than a numerical score and it’s as subjective as they come. They are changing the scoring process this year so it will be interesting to see how things pan out next spring when the entries are returned and people start to discuss the results. 

November 3, 2012
I’m just returning from a weekend writer’s retreat sponsored by my local RWA chapter, NEORWA, and can’t believe what an incredible time I had. While I didn’t get as much writing done as I’d hoped (of course, you never do at these things) I did spend lots of time talking about the craft and business of writing. And best of all, I made new friends!! We had a great group of ladies in Cabin 2. It was definitely a weekend full of fun.

October 28, 2012
Fall is falling all around me. Of course, we are currently tracking the freakish Frankenstorm lumbering up the east coast. I do love the rain. It puts me in a creative mood. I am busily trying to finish up Fallen Stars to be ready to enter the Golden Heart. I also recently submitted Sex and Insensibility to Carina Press. Additionally I had a request for a full from Crimson Romance, a fairly new digital press. But they are a subsidiary of a well established non-fiction publisher. I am dipping my toes reluctantly in the ebook publishing market. I’m also considering for the first time self-publishing. RWA is now letting self-published authors qualify for PAN and quite a few are making the numbers. Something I need to look into further. I’m just no good at the promo stuff – or at least I don’t know what to do for promotional stuff. Another topic I need to learn about. I’ve also signed up for the Donald Maass workshop in Jan in Columbus. He’s so close I can’t pass it up. Hopefully it will be a good learning experience. Ok…off to write!!

October 11, 2012
I just found out I’m a finalist in the FCRW Beacon contest. YAY!! It’s always exciting to know your work stood out. Writing is usually about publication and publication is about standing out. I find myself struggling, however, with maintaining what I think makes my story good and what the judges’ comments tell me I should change. Opinions are as varied as the people that give them. In a contest, you have to take what you think will make your story better and leave out the rest. But it’s tough to tweak the story in order to improve it without losing your voice and story idea. I have a love scene very early in this story and a lot of people have told me to take it out. But it’s important for the two characters. It’s the culmination of years and years of unrequited love and passion and it just explodes (pardon the pun) when they meet again. It’s just right for my story. Which means it may never be published. So I have to decide between staying true to my story/voice, or going with the consensus to make it (supposedly) more suitable for the market. Hmmmmm….choice choices. 

September 29, 2012
I went to a writer’s conference this weekend. I used to love these local regional  conferences and went as often as possible. I’ve not been a part of this for a while now. This is only my second conference in 3 yrs. But I remember why I like it so much and it’s the people. You won’t find a better bunch of people than romance writers. They are the most open professionals I’ve ever encountered, so willing to share what they know and how they learned it with people trying to become their competition. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is being a part of a community that few people understand. And I have a request for a full from an editor and a request for a partial from an agent. So it’s been a good weekend. 

September 21, 2012
Frustration. That seems to be the word of the week for me. Frustration with Time Warner Cable whose darkness will NEVER enter my home again. Frustration with the Fast Draft class. Frustration with myself. I’m actively seeking an agent. It’s not something I had considered in the past but I’m hitting dead ends trying to find a publisher for my romantic comedy, Sex and Insensibility. This story has made the finals in multiple contests so I think it’s a good story. Or at least the beginning is good. But I’ve gotten 3 rejections this week from agents. Thanks, just not for me. Well WHY?? Is the writing poor? Is the characterization lame? Am I missing something critical that will make it a better story? Maybe it’s a story that just won’t see the light of day and I’ll have to accept that eventually. I’m just not ready to do it yet. But I’m close.

September 14, 2012
This is me blushing. I’ve been terribly lax about writing the blog. It’s for a good reason though. I’m hip deep in contest entries I’m judging for a variety of groups and I’m seeing some really good stuff out there. Also, after our inspiring workshop with Candy Havens I’m taking her Fast Draft/Revision Hell Bootcamp with Heather Long. It’s very  motivational but also very scary. The goal is 5,000 words a day. A DAY!! Eek!! I’m lucky to get in 1000 some days, but it’s 1000 more than I started with so I’ll take it. I also got some GREAT news that helped the creative muse come out of hiding. My new romantic suspense, Fallen Stars, placed first in the Tampa Area Romance Authors contest. Yes, that’s me giggling maniacally. My daughter has been a real trooper and I have to tip my hat off to her. She makes it possible by being such a great kid. 

July 20, 2012
Met with my critique partner today which always gets my muse kicked into gear. Things are moving along thankfully. I’ve been trying to stay focused on one story but my head is kind of all over right now. Sure wish I was going to National next week. I miss conference!! 

July 7, 2012
Wow! It’s been too long. I went on vacation with my best friend and it’s been a roller coaster since then. We went to Oregon and Washington and I was able to get in some writing time. Yippee!! As I stated last time I made the finals with Fallen Stars but I was given the opportunity to revise it based on feedback. PLUS I had to write a synopsis. YUCK!! Those are the hardest thing for me because most times I don’t know how my story is going to go until I write it. However, this time I’m using Karen Doctor’s “W” Plot technique so I have a general direction. It was due on the 5th so I’ve been writing away since then. And in the “good news” category STT is now available in paperback. I’m so excited!! Can’t wait to see a hard copy. 

June 20, 2012

I learned today that my new romantic suspense, Fallen Stars, is a finalist in the TARA contest. Yippee!! It’s the first time I’ve entered this one so I’m really excited about being a finalist. Hopefully the judge will like it as well!

June 13, 2012

More blog posts about Sweeter Than Tea!  Read it here at PetitFours and Hot Tamales or here atHarry Potter for Writers or here at Deborah Grace Staley.

June 12, 2012

I’m considering entering a few contests and realized how much my attitude has changed in my approach to this staple of the unpublished writer. You can get such good feedback from other writers, both published and unpublished. I’ve also had my entries skewered and it leaves you wondering if you’re going down the right path. I’m just not terrified anymore. If I make the finals, great. If I get some good feedback, even better. And if I get skewered? Well….some days you’re the windshield; other days you’re the bug. 

June 8, 2012
Darcy’s blog about Sweeter Than Tea went live today. Check it out at It’s Only A Novel.

June 1, 2012

We have a launch date for STT – June 13!! The book should be available through Amazon on that day. I’m not sure about B&N but that should follow soon if it’s not available on the 13th. I will also be featured on the website of fellow author, Darcy Crowder. You can see it at  it’sonlyanovel blog &  PFHT grp blog sometime around June 7.

May 23, 2012

Wow. My first webpage. I’m feeling rather giggly. Hopefully I’ll figure out the rest of the design features and I’ll be able to put something here that someone will find useful. Until then….it’s back to writing!

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